It there is one thing I've learned doing comedy for the last nearly five and a half years, it's that i should quit.
Just kidding. Literally in a word, it's networking. Really, I guess I shouldn't say that I've learned networking. I'm horrible at it. What I've learned is that it's important. I may or may not be funny, (I think I am) but I am positive that I have not gotten as far in the stand-up world as I want to because I am no good at networking.
Forget my struggles though, this is not what this article is about. It's about what every comic (including myself) should do.
Let's make it a list, why not? (in no particular sequence of importance)
1. When you do a comedy club or or a bar or someone's basement in the middle of no where after a U of M vs. MSU football game, make sure you thank the club owner, or booker, or basement owner, or headliner that let you come along or whoever is responsible for you being able to perform comedy at that venue. Not only will it help them remember you, but it is polite. If possible, also shoot them an email a day or two later thanking them again (this may not be as necessary for open mics as for paid shows, but it's nice).
2. Ask for work. When I first started I thought hey if I'm good and someone sees me then I'll get booked right? Yeah maybe, but for the most part no. You have to ask people for work if you want, maybe even annoy them. Point is, you can't get work if no one knows you want it. And how do you do this?...
3. Email, email, email. Maybe you are good friends with a booker, I suppose then go ahead and text or call, otherwise emailing is a good route. Make it a routine. Don't just email someone every six months, but also don't flood their in boxes with your large amounts of availability. I would say emailing a booker once a month is a good idea, just to keep you in their memory. I've also heard this piece of advice, don't email bookers on Mondays or Fridays. On Friday they are too busy dealing with whatever show they have coming up for the weekend, and on Monday they are still busy dealing with the past weekends show. Your email may likely get lost in the electronic wind. So mid-week emails work best.
3. Don't give them a reason to dislike you. Do all the shit that should be common sense. Show up early, be prepared, be respectful of the club, and DON'T GO OVER YOUR TIME. If you go over your time not only will the club owner not like you, but probably the other comics, and maybe even the wait staff. They have to work later the longer you make the show. That being said, also tip the wait staff. Also when at open mics, don't leave right after your set (unless you are trying to make another mic). Stay and watch the other comics. You never know if one of those comics runs a room. To go along with that, get to know as many comics as you can. You never know who can help you in the long run. Just be friendly to everyone, even if you fucking hate them.
4. Festivals. It's not always easy to enter every festival because comics generally are broke and they are usually not free, but enter any one you can. You might not make it, but you have to try. This will help get your name out there to farther away places where you can meet all kinds of people that can potentially help you with you're career.
I guess that's really all. Then again I'm not a very successful comic, and and am not a booker, so I may be missing some things, but these are the things I have done to get work, and that I have seen others do to get work. I can't tell you if you do these things that you will be a successful comic, but I can tell you that if you don't then you won't.